PhD researcher in coastal landscape history - Maritime Cultures Research Institute (MARI) Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB)

Soetkin Vervust's picture

Your network editor has reposted this from H-Announce. The byline reflects the original authorship.

Home Office Notices (Jobs, Reviews)
October 15, 2021
Subject Fields: 
Archaeology, Geography, Maritime History / Studies, Rural History / Studies

Full time 4-year PhD position studying 5000 years of landscape evolution of the Flemish Middle Coast

Join the MARI team (Maritime Cultures Research Institute) at VUB (Vrije Universiteit Brussel) for the ‘TESTEREP’ project (The Evolution of the Flemish Seascape (5000 BP – present). Testerep Reconstructed for Policy making and Public engagement), which aims to better understand the spatio-temporal evolution of Flanders’ coastal landscape over the past 5000 years by studying the former Testerep peninsula.

TESTEREP is a 4-year Strategic Basic Research project, led by the VUB, in close collaboration with the Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ), KU Leuven – Department of Hydraulics and Geotechnics, and HoWest – Digital Arts & Entertainment (DAE). This consortium brings together archaeologists, marine geoscientists, hydraulic engineers and specialists in computer graphics and VR design. Together they will study the evolution and eventual demise of the Testerep peninsula, once located on the Flemish coast before largely disappearing into the sea during the Middle Ages. By reconstructing past environmental conditions and the strategies people developed to live in this coastal landscape, the project aims to gain detailed insight into the relative impact of natural changes (e.g. sea level rise) versus anthropogenic interventions (e.g. constructing embankments) on the morphological dynamics of the coast. Resulting products will include palaeogeographic maps, state-of- the-art 3D reconstructions and interactive 3D simulations of past coastal landscape change. These will be used to raise public awareness on coastal dynamics and current threats, to stimulate blue tourism, to support heritage management, and to inspire sustainable coastal management strategies for the future. As such, the project will have a large stakeholder engagement and outreach component to it, aimed at both the public at large as well as Flemish and provincial government agencies, coastal communities, tourism agencies, and dredging and consultancy companies.

Within the TESTEREP project, the MARI team at VUB will focus on the onshore part of the research area. As such, the PhD candidate is expected to assist with the collection and inventorying of existing archaeological, historical, topographical, geomorphological and geological datasets, as well as the gathering and interpretation of new data collected through LiDAR and EMI surveys, sediment coring, small-scale excavations, and sampling for pollen, radiocarbon and OSL analyses. This should result in the development of a GIS database of dated natural and manmade landscape features within the Testerep region and the creation of palaeogeographic reconstruction maps as well as palaeo-DTMs of the area at relevant time slices. These will serve as input for the hydrodynamic modelling, 3D visualisations and simulations of the evolution of the coastal landscape, created by the other project partners, with whom a close collaboration will be essential for the success of the project. Besides carrying out scientific research, the PhD candidate is therefore expected to also actively participate in project meetings with consortium members and stakeholders, and to communicate research findings through presentations and publications.

We are looking for a motivated and enthusiastic candidate with:
•    a Master’s degree in archaeology, history, geography or earth sciences, eager to cross boundaries between disciplines
•    experience in studying Holocene landscape evolution, preferably in coastal environments
•    excellent digital data management skills (database creation and advanced spatial analyses using GIS)
•    participation in field surveys for collecting archaeological / sedimentological data
•    experience with interpreting geophysical datasets (EMI surveys)
•    good communication and academic writing skills in English
•    experience with public outreach and stakeholder engagement
•    ability to work both individually and as part of a multidisciplinary project team
•    full current driving licence, valid in Belgium

To apply, send your complete academic CV as well as a cover letter explaining how you could contribute to the TESTEREP project to Dr. Soetkin Vervust (scientific coordinator of the project) by 15 October 2021 ( Interviews will take place in the week of 25 October, either in Brussels at the VUB or digitally, subject to COVID-19 regulations and restrictions. Employment will ideally start in December 2021 or January 2022.

If you would like to receive more details about the project, don’t hesitate to contact Dr. Soetkin Vervust (

If you want to know more about working at the VUB, go to and find out all there is to know about our campuses, benefits, strategic goals and your future colleagues. For more information about the Maritime Cultures Research Institute (MARI), visit

Contact Info: 

Dr. Soetkin Vervust

TESTEREP project coordinator

Maritime Cultures Research Institute (MARI)

Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB)


Contact Email: